Hypertufa Info

Learn how to make this lightweight stone-like substance


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Hypertufa Recipes

Recipe #1 - Heavy Duty
This recipe is heavier than most hypertufa and is ideal for troughs and containers for cold climates as well as large objects and stepping stones. So far this is the one that I have used almost exclusively.

  • 1 Part Sterile Potting Mix (No fertilizer)
  • 1 Part Portland Cement
  • Water

Note: Most sterile potting mix contains peat moss, some sort of organic matter, like compost and perlite. This recipe is basically the Lazy Man's recipe because it's easy to find sterile potting mixes with no fertilizer. If your local big box store doesn't have one without fertilizer, check with a good nursery. If that doesn't work, try one of the other recipes below.

Recipe #2 - Heavy Duty

  • 2 Parts Portland Cement
  • 2 Parts Perlite
  • 1½ Parts Peat Moss
  • 1½ Part Contractor's/All-Purpose Sand (not play sand)
  • Reinforcing Fibers (Optional)

Recipe #3 - Nice Medium Beige Color, carveable yet sturdier than some mixtures designed for carving (I use this one most often and holds up well in zone 5).

  • 1 Part Portland Cement
  • 1 Part Peat
  • 1 Part Perlite or Vermiculite
  • 1 Part Contractor's (All-Purpose) Sand

Recipe # 4 - Very good for carving when partially cured

  • 1 Part Portland Cement
  • 1½ Part Peat Moss
  • 1½ Part Vermiculite

Recipe #5 - Lighter Weight Mix

  • 1 Part Portland Cement
  • 1½ Part Peat Moss
  • 1½ Part Perlite

Recipe #6 - Good Beginner Mix

  • 1 Part Portland Cement
  • 1 Part Peat Moss
  • 1 Part Perlite or Vermiculite

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Additional Notes and Tips

  • For mixing use a plastic dishpan, concrete mixing pan, wheel barrow or other large shallow container with smooth insides.
  • Add water slowly and mix for several minutes before adding more water.
  • Portland cement is powdery and does not contain stones, so make sure you buy Portland cement and not concrete by mistake.
  • You can use almost anything for a mold, just remember to use a release agent whenever appropriate. A release agent is something slick you can put on the surface of your mold to prevent the concrete from sticking. You can buy a professional release agent at the home improvement store, or use vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray. I have detailed instructions on the molds I have used on each project.
  • Stay away from stainless steel as a mold unless you cover it in plastic and use a release agent.
  • Concrete dyes can be mixed in with the dry ingredients to make a different color. You can also use acrylic craft paints, or milk paints. This will work better with white portland cement.
  • Stones, shells, tiles and other objects can be pressed into wet hypertufa or glued onto a finished project using a weather proof construction adhesive.
  • If your hypertufa crumbles after it is cured, several things could have happened. Hypertufa needs to cure slowly in a cool, shady place. Drying too quickly can result in a weak project. Mist your project with water a couple of times a day and cover with plastic to slow evaporation. Also, the mix may have been too dry to begin with. Peat moss that is very dry will take a long time to absorb water. If your peat moss or potting mix seems powdery and dry, add some warm water to it first, mix it up and let it sit for 30 minutes or so and then measure it and mix it with the other dry ingredients. Peat moss that is too dry will also take up less volume, so when you measure the ingredients you will likely have more peat moss than the recipe hypertufa really needs.

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Aging your Hypertufa Projects

Hypertufa will naturally age over time based on acid and moisture conditions that they are exposed to. The peat moss will begin to decompose further aging the project. 

If you don't want your hypertufa projects to weather, you can coat them with a penetrating concrete sealer.

There are also ways to encourage moss growth. It takes time, but it can be done.

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Growing Moss

Moss likes moist acidic shady conditions to grow well. If you can duplicate these conditions, moss will begin to grow naturally, but it could take anywhere from 6 months to several years to start growing.

Technique #1
Find some moss that is already growing on concrete and attach it to your hypertufa piece using a mixture of fish emulsion, water and peat moss as an adhesive. Keep moist.

Technique #2
In a blender add a handful of moss (minus the soil) and a can of beer, yogurt or buttermilk and blend just until the moss has broken down. Paint your hypertufa piece with this mixture and keep in a shady moist location. Mist daily during hot dry conditions until you start to see moss growth.

Technique #3
Break up pieces of moss by hand and mix with rain water and paint your hypertufa piece with it. Keep moist.

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